The next day, Pedro Morales approached Zach and quietly apologized. Lessons learned all around. That’s what it was really all about. Having set the last vessel, there was little else to do on site, other than put out fires and do paperwork. Despite the pace at which Zen Construction operated, there was plenty of time for idle chatter.
“Hey, Zach. Who are you banging next?” a piping foreman asked him.
His sex life (there was no love life to speak of) consisted of masturbation, and quarterly encounters with high-end Hollywood porn stars. He was the envy of every man on the jobsite, although any of them could have done the same, had they applied themselves.
“Ashley Blue. Next month.”
“Are you fuckin’ kiddin’ me, bro?”
“Oh. Are you familiar with her body of work, Motherfucker?”
This wasn’t disparagement. The foreman’s name on site was actually Motherfucker.
“Dude! She’s not the best looking girl in porn, but she’s super hot. Such an active, nasty, willing submissive. Until she switches and starts dominating girls. I’ve got half a hard-on right now.”
“Motherfucker, you’re the Roget Ebert of pornography reviews. For the record, I happen to think she’s one of the most beautiful women in the world, inside and out.”
“So who are you fuckin’ her with?”
“If you just fuck her alone, you’re only getting a quarter of your money’s worth, I think. The things she does to girls. Oh my fucking god.”
“It’ll just be me and her. And the cameragirl. Maybe if we hit it off, we’ll try that next time. But I’d like to get to know her, first.”
“Nigga, you crazy. Tryin’ to romance whores.”
Although Zach didn’t consider them whores as such, he did indeed romance them. Inevitably, it was for naught. Fuck machines though they may be, he found each of them to be lacking, in one way or another. To a person, they were usually crippled by drug addiction, daddy issues, and even, he felt, mental illness.
He could handle each of those things on their own, but with porn actresses, they seemed to have all three traits. It was too much chaos for him to deal with and still maintain good work habits. He wasn’t a miracle worker. Obviously, he was barking up the wrong trees, however beautiful and compelling he found them.
More than once, his coworkers half-jokingly asked why he didn’t pursue Renee.
Because, he told them, he wore the pants, and any wife of his would wear nothing at all. She would present herself, naked and unashamed, and submit to his care and trust. Otherwise, there could be no union. Not so much in a controlling way, but a symbolic gesture of fealty. Any wife of his should realize he had her best interests at heart, or a lasting relationship would be impossible.
It was a daddy thing.
They mostly lacked security within themselves, and with it, the ability to accept that he could devote himself to one special girl, even in the face of the occasional threesome. Or orgy. Zach was even comfortable with giving them the same experiences on their side with men. But on his terms and timeline.
The objectivity of construction work had rendered him rather strict in regard to his personal life.
But Zach was learning to compromise.
Resigned to her fate, Zöe readied herself to take the bus home. Where else was she to go? She loved him. Briefly, she considered calling Rita for drinks. Her best friend, she was nearly twenty years younger than her, but somehow also worlds more responsible, organized, and driven.
She needed that in her life.
They got together frequently, for drinks, and to commiserate. They would talk, laugh, and support each other as best they could. The running joke was that although her name was Rita, they both drank Mexican Martinis.
Zöe certainly didn’t receive any support at home. At this stage, she was probably more of a man than her current boyfriend. Live-in boyfriend… In some ways, he was everything she wanted: tall, handsome, and talented. In every other possible way, he was a huge disappointment. At this point, a liability. A threat, even.
She checked her Samsung, and noticed that she still had time. She walked back into the bathroom at her place of employment and did her usual maintenance dose of cocaine.
Zöe sighed and unlocked the door to her duplex. There was Trent, passed out on the couch, the plate they used for coke on the coffee table.
It was empty, of course.
She stripped down to her bra and panties, and pressed the length of her body against his. She liked him so much when he was sleeping. Awake, not so much,anymore. She kissed him sweetly, and his eyes fluttered open. But instead of embracing her, he pushed her away and sat up. “I need some money” was the first thing out of his mouth.
Her heart sank.
“Why? I paid all the bills.”
Getting the bills paid on time each month was becoming increasingly difficult. She carried the lion’s share of the burden, there.
“I really need the guitar I pawned. Big show coming up.”
“Trent, you have three other guitars!”
“I know, babe. But I need that one. It’s the best one I have, and this is important.”
Zöe wanted to be important to someone. At one point, she was his world, and he was hers. Life, among other things, got in the way. Disappointed, as always, she got up, dressed, and grabbed her purse. Playtime was over before it had begun.
“Sixty. But seventy-five would be better. I’m out of cigarettes, and I could use some beer.”
She gave him her last hundred. She’d have to get her mom to buy her some cat food, which she hated to do. Luckily for her, she and Trent didn’t eat much anymore. He took it without so much as a thank you, and put it in his wallet.
“Give me some coke.”
“I don’t have any,” she lied. It had become something of a habit, lately.
“I already talked to Chuckie. He told me.”
Admonished, she pulled her dwindling bindle out and poured half of it onto the plate. Trent grabbed the razor and began to chop. He put most of it on his side, not even bothering to pretend to be fair about it, and did all of his before handing her the straw. She drew herself a single line, then scooped the remainder back into her baggie.
He stood to go.
“Where are you going?”
“Out. I told you. Drinking.”
“I thought you’d get some beer, and we’d watch a movie…”
Zöe placed herself between him and the door.
He shoved her into the wall. Hard.
“Stupid fat bitch.”
He left her in tears. And pain.
A little while later, she received a reply text. It was Jason, an old boyfriend.
“>Humble, Texas. Same room as last time?
You know it. Be ready to fuck. Slut…”